Last season, Luis Enrique led Barça B to a meritorious third place finish in Spain’s Segunda División. This season, with Eusebio Sacristán on the bench, the team is taking flight after an irregular summer and a tough start to the season.
With Pep Guardiola’s arrival to Barça B’s bench in the 2007/08 season, the Barça youth team left its losing ways by the wayside and earned their promotion to Second Division B. Two years later, thanks to the manager Luis Enrique, Barça B climbed one step further up the promotion ladder and earned their spot in Second Division. A year and a half later, the youth squad continues its fantastic run.
2011 saw best Barça B side in Club history. Luis Enrique led his squad to an impressive top three finish in Second Division, beating the previous all-time Barça B record for season finishes. Despite the team’s unquestionable quality, Barça B was not allowed to dispute the promotion play-offs because the first team was already in Spain’s top flight. Lucho’s [Luis Enrique] team was awarded the Fair Play award for their season-long exemplary conduct and Jonathan Soriano earned the Pichichi award with 32 goals.
At the end of the season, Luis Enrique decided it was time to manage elsewhere. Eusebio Sacristán took the reins from the Asturian with the goal of continuing to produce first team players and maintain Barça B’s divisional ranking.
A plethora of youth tournaments with the national side and the inclusion of many Barça B players in the first team’s season preparations led to an atypical preseason for Barça B, where many of its players were absent or arriving late due to international duties. Therefore, Eusebio didn’t have a full squad until September.
The atypical preseason and the loss of important players from the previous season, like Nolito - who now plays for Benfica - and Jonathan Soriano’s long term injury, were key factors in Barça B’s irregular start to the season.
At the start of the season, Barça B beat Huesca and Cartagena away from the Miniestadi, but they lost at home to Villareal B, Deportivo and Sabadell. Improving at the Mini has been one Barça B’s goals this season.
The team played great football, but some players showed their inexperience, seeing that many came from the Under-17 squad. The turning point came after the draw with Alcorcón and loss at home to Guadalajara in matchday 10. The Azulgranas occupied the 17th spot of the table and were dangerously close to the relegation zone. From that point, Eusebio Sacristán’s men went on a winning run, they managed to string four wins and two draws together in six matches. The streak was broken by Elche, the current League leaders.
Barça B ends the calendar year comfortably sitting in the middle of the table, with Rodri and Kiko Femenía fully integrated in the team’s dynamics and with a recovered Jonathan Soriano. The reserve side wants to improve and grow, their goal for the upcoming 2012 year is to improve the results at home and avoid losing points due to conceding goals in the final minutes of matches. (via FCBarcelona.cat)